Duncan W. Adams is an eccentric millionaire petrol tycoon with a collection of combination safes and arcane locking devices. After he disappears and is presumed dead, his relatives hire you, an accomplished safecracker and locksmith, to search through Adams’ mansion for his will to see who he has left his fortune to. But it won’t be easy – Adams has left an elaborate series of puzzles to make whoever wants his will to work for it. That’s the premise behind Safecracker.
Safecracker is a first-person point-and-click game developed by Paris-based Kheops Studio, the makers of Return to Mysterious Island and other adventure titles. If you’ve played Myst, Dark Fall, or any of Her Interactive’s Nancy Drew mysteries, you’ll have a good idea of what to expect.
The game takes place inside Adams’ mansion, which you must explore one room at a time hunting for clues that help you to decipher the many combination locks, safes and other puzzles that Adams has left to stump those who are searching for his will (there are 35 puzzles in all).
You can pick up items to add to your inventory, click on pictures and other bits of paper to examine them (many contain important clues), navigate around the mansion and look around all by moving the mouse cursor.
When you discover a puzzle, such as a safe that needs to be cracked or a combination lock that must be deciphered, clicking on it opens up a special zoomed-in mode where you can try to solve the puzzle. These puzzles are truly ingenious, ranging from cipher codes using letters and numbers to visual puzzles that involve rotating or manipulating objects, to straight number combinations that must be pieced together from clues found elsewhere.
The game is challenging enough to put even serious puzzle vets through their paces, but by the same token, it’s not the kind of experience that’s likely to hold the interest of younger children or those looking for a quick-and-easy timewaster that can be played in short spurts.
Unlike Return to Mysterious Island where there are action sequences, flashy plot twists, interesting items and a bit of interaction with the outside world, Safecracker takes place entirely within the interior of the mansion and is a far more sedate affair. You’ll go through the entire game without meeting a soul, and the rewards are more subtle. The objects you get in return for cracking the first safe, for example is… wait for it… a resistor and a piece of paper!
Still, there’s a special kind of personal satisfaction and sense of achievement in solving Safecracker‘s extremely difficult puzzles and learning more about the intrigues between the various members of the Adams family, which play out through a series of letters and diary entries left for you to find. And although the game is a solitary experience, the graphics are well done, the music and sound effects add the appropriate level of suspense, and the game is narrated by your character in a dapper English accent rather reminiscent of James Bond.
Thankfully, the game also offers a mapping feature that works by drawing the rooms in a notepad as you visit them as though the character is making quick sketches as he goes along. This is a cool and “in-character” way of making sure you never get lost while walking through the mansion’s many corridors.
Safecracker is a well made game designed to appeal to a specific breed of gamer. If you’re the kind of person who has keen powers of observation and problem-solving skills, and is patient enough to be willing to spend hours deciphering finicky puzzles, then you’ll find Safecracker to be a worthy challenge.